How state laws measure up:
how the Institute rates the laws

Return to states' ratings

Young driver licensing laws

Point values were assigned according to the schedule below. Regardless of point totals, no state was rated above "marginal" if its intermediate license age is less than 16 or it allows unrestricted driving before age 16, 6 months.

Good: ≥ 6 points     Fair: 4 or 5 points     Marginal: 2 or 3 points     Poor: 0 or 1 point

Learner's entry age: 1 point for learner's entry age of 16
Learner's holding period: 2 points for ≥ 6 months; 1 point for 3-5 months; none for <3 months
Practice driving certification: 1 point for ≥ 30 hours; none for less than 30 hours
Night driving restriction: 2 points for 9 or 10 pm; 1 point for after 10 pm
Passenger restriction: 2 points for ≤1 underage passenger; 1 for 2 passengers; none for 3; where supervising driver may be <21, point values were determined including the supervising driver as a passenger
Driver education: Where completion of driver education changed a requirement, point values were determined for the driver education track
Duration of restrictions: 1 point if difference between minimum unrestricted license age and minimum intermediate license age is 12 or more months; night driving and passenger restrictions were valued independently


Safety belt use laws

Good: law allows primary enforcement (police may stop and ticket motorists for belt law violations alone); fines and/or license points are imposed for violations; and law applies to occupants in rear as well as front seats

Fair: law allows primary enforcement but doesn't require belt use in rear seats

Marginal: law allows secondary enforcement (police must stop motorists for other violation before enforcing belt law)

Poor: either no belt use law or law doesn't impose any fine or license points

Child restraint use laws

Good: all children younger than 13 in all vehicle seats are required to ride in infant restraints, child seats, or safety belts; enforcement is primary (see above for definition of primary enforcement)

Marginal: all children younger than 13 in all seats are required to ride in infant restraints, child seats, or safety belts; enforcement under adult belt laws may be secondary (see above for definition of secondary enforcement)

Poor: some children younger than 13 aren't required to be restrained

Motorcycle helmet use laws

Good: all motorcycle riders must wear helmets

Poor: either no helmet use law or law covers only some riders

Red light camera enforcement laws

Good: law grants specific statewide authority for camera enforcement

Fair: operational camera enforcement without specific state authority

Marginal: law restricts authority for camera enforcement to specific communities only

Poor: no law grants authority for camera enforcement and no operational camera enforcement